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An Open Book

Completion Date:

Artists: Mayme Kratz, Debra Hopkins and Valerie Vadala Homer

Location: Juniper Branch Library
19th Avenue and Union Hills


This project was made possible City of Phoenix Percent for Art funds and was administered by the Phoenix Arts Commission Public Art Program.

Overview | Learning Activities | Resources | Evaluation | Reflection | Standards

Lesson Overview

This artwork is inspired by the book as a physical object and as one of the principle tools associated with learning. It focuses on the letters of the alphabet as the primary building blocks of our language and learning system. This sculpture is composed of 28 translucent cast resin blocks in a grid-like pattern attached to the curved wall of the library’s meeting room. Each block (or page) contains natural and found objects which are related to the letter of the alphabet inscribed on each block. One page is shown below:




See More of This Artwork

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Learning Activities
  • Navigating to An Open Book using a GPS receiver
  • View this public art from a distance
    • Describe what you see
    • What medium is used for this artwork?
    • What is unusual about this medium in representing a book?
  • View this public art close-up
    • View each letter of the alphabet
    • Which letter or letters are most interesting to you? Why?
    • If you have a camera, take a picture of your favorite letter.
    • Why is this your favorite letter?
  • Think about these questions?
    • What is public art?
    • Why is this public art inside a library?
    • Where else could this public art be meaningfully place? Why?
    • For which letter or letters would you have chosen different objects to represent the theme? Why?

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About the Artists:

  • Valerie Vadala Homer: Trustee, Vice President and Public Art Director of the Scottsdale Cultural Council Board of Trustees
  • Mayme Kratz: A resident of Phoenix, Arizona, Mayme Kratz works both in resin and blown glass, having become much interested in glass in 1998 during a residency in Pilchuk in Washington state. Her pieces are intended to capture nature in transparent structures.
  • Debra Hopkins: Assistant Director of Art for Exhibitions, Scottsdale Center for the Arts

Other Work by the Artists:

What is Public Art

Public Art enhances the quality of life by helping to define and formulate responses to social, economic, cultural and political issues faced by a community. Public Art contributes to cross-cultural understanding, and a sense of ownership and responsibility towards one's community. In its broadest definition, Public Art inspires community understanding, pride and creativity, and benefits the growth and development of the individual and community life. At its best, Public Art is more than simply art integrated, installed or performed in a public place; rather it is a community-based process of dialogue, involvement, and participation. In many instances, Public Art has become a major source of identity for a community.

Public Art is artwork in the public realm, regardless of whether it is situated on public or private property, or whether it is acquired through public or private funding. Public Art can be a sculpture, mural, manhole cover, paving pattern, lighting, seating, building facade, kiosk, gate, fountain, play equipment, engraving, carving, fresco, mobile, collage, mosaic, bas-relief, tapestry, photograph, drawing, or earthwork.

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Links about Public Art

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  • Choose either a theme from this public artwork (example: grace) or another theme of your own choosing
  • Collect objects that personally represent your theme
  • Assemble your objects in a display to share with others. Possible displays:
    • Pressed items ironed between two pieces of waxed paper
    • Items glued to a poster board
    • Items assembled inside a picture frame
    • Items displayed inside a shoe box
    • Items hung from strings to form a mobile
    • Use your imagination for other creative ways to display the items representing your theme

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  • What did you learn about public art from this experience?
  • How does public art add to people's enjoyment of a building?
  • What aspect of this public art made the greatest impression on you? Why?
  • How does thie Public Art help you develop a sense of your community? Help you identify with your community?

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Standards from the Arizona Department of Education

This lesson is linked to the following standards:

  • Visual Arts
    Strand 2: Relate
    Concept 4: Meanings or Purposes
    Concept # 4: Meanings or Purposes: The student will interpret meanings or purposes of artwork based on contextual information.
  • Visual Arts
    Strand 3: Evaluate
    Concept 2: Materials, Tools, and Techniques
    Concept # 2: Materials, Tools, and Techniques:The student will reflect on, and determine how materials, tools, and techniques affect meanings, purposes, and value in artworks.
  • Visual Arts
    Strand 3: Evaluate
    Concept 4: Meanings or Purposes
    Concept # 4: Meanings or Purposes: The student will judge an artist’s success in communicating meaning or purpose in their artwork.
  • Technology
    Standard 5: Technology Research Tools
    Students utilize technology-based research tools to locate and collect information
    pertinent to the task, as well as evaluate and analyze information from a variety of
  • Technology
    Standard 6: Technology as a Tool for Problem Solving and Decision-making
    Students use technology to make and support decisions in the process of solving real-
    world problems.
  • Language Arts Reading
    Strand 3: Comprehending Informational Text
    Students identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the purpose, structures, and elements of expository text.
  • Language Arts: Listening and Speaking
    Students effectively listen and speak in situations that serve different purposes and involve a variety of audiences.
    • LS-E1. Effectively convey the message through verbal and nonverbal communications with a specific audience
    • LS-E3. Interpret and respond to questions
  • Language Arts: Viewing and Presenting
    Students use a variety of visual media and resources to gather, evaluate and synthesize information and to communicate with others.
    • VP-E1. Analyze visual media for language, subject matter and visual techniques used
      to influence opinions, decision making and cultural perceptions
    • VP-E2. Plan, develop and produce a visual presentation, using a variety of media such
      as videos, films, newspapers, magazines and computer images
    • VP-E3. Compare, contrast and establish criteria to evaluate visual media for purpose
      and effectiveness
  • Social Studies: Geography
    Concept 1: The World in Spatial Terms
    The spatial perspective and associated geographic tools are used to organize and interpret information about people, places and
    • PO-1:Use different kinds of maps to solve problems
    • PO-7: Locate physical features in AZ using maps and other location devices
  • Social Studies: Geography
    Concept 4: Human systems and culture, their nature, and their distribution affects societies and the Earth.
    • PO-4: Describe cultural characteristics of Arizona's diverse populations
    • PO-6: Describe elements of culture in areas studied
  • Workplace Skills Standards
    • Standard 1: Students use principles of effective oral, written and listening communication skills to make decisions and solve problems.
    • Standard 2: Students apply computation skills and data analysis techniques to make decisions and solve problems.
    • Standard 3: Students apply critical and creative thinking skills to make decisions and solve problems.
    • Standard 4: Students work individually and collaboratively within team settings to accomplish objectives.
    • Standard 7: Students demonstrate technological literacy for productivity in the workplace.